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Love in Lockdown

Dating is hard. There’s no question about it. At the best of times it’s stressful, nerve wracking, but really exciting. Now, add a global pandemic and a strict stay at home order into the mix.

Illustration: Sayali Harde

In the age of COVID-19, navigating the dating world has never been harder and it seems the virus is taking a toll on everybody’s love life.

Starting a new relationship is scary, but it’s also really, really fun. You’re giddy, excited and your stomach flutters every time you think of your new boo.

But what happens when the two of you can’t even see each other in person for an indefinite number of months?

This time in your relationship is crucial. When the connection is still fragile and you’re still trying to get to know each other and establish those feelings, physical interaction is paramount.

Brayden Shearn, a 21-year-old plumber from Ringwood, is in exactly this boat.

He’s been “dating but not really dating” someone for about two months. “The bit before the relationship”, as he so eloquently described it.

It’s a fresh relationship that took some work, but it finally looked like it was going down the right path when the COVID-19 restrictions hit Australia hard. And Brayden is worried.

“I’m worried she’ll lose interest,” he told me. “We can’t really see each other, so that’s a whole part of the relationship. She might just decide she prefers being on her own.”

Brayden’s fears are sure to be shared by a huge number of Australians. After all, a global pandemic is not the ideal circumstance for a healthy love life. Right?

Well, not according to Relationship Expert and Dating Coach, Samantha Jayne. While she does predict a nationwide lockdown will lead to a boom in divorces and breakups, Samantha thinks, if done right, this time could be used to strengthen your relationship.

“You have a choice to look at this as an opportunity to connect, have some more intimacy and to rebuild your relationship.”

Illustration: Sayali Harde

For those of you stuck inside with your partner, Samantha says it’s so important to “be really kind to each other”.

“You're gonna drive each other nuts, you're going to be in each other's faces. [But] just talk to your partner. Don’t just assume they’re fine because you are. They could be really scared, and if they can’t connect with you, they’re going to find someone else to connect with.”

And for those of you who are forced to isolate away from your significant other like Brayden, Samantha wants to remind you that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.

It’s a cliché, but it might just be true.

“Be playful, be flirty,” she says. “Get creative over video chat, have breakfast dates, have dinner dates and just think about how amazing it’ll be when you finally get to physically touch each other.”

And don’t worry everyone, Brayden has assured me he’s got chatting online covered. “We still talk every day. There’s always Facetime, isn't there? You’ve got that, you got fucking Snapchat, all that sort of shit.”

For all you singles out there, don’t think we forgot about you. Samantha thinks those who’ve found themselves lonely in lockdown might have the most to gain from a stay-at-home society.

In an age where we’re forced to interact through our screens, it's time for dating apps to shine. And according to Samantha, now is the best time to find a connection.

If you steer clear of dating apps because of the plethora of players that come with them, Samantha is here to assure you they’re not going to be around for a while.

“Don’t worry about the players. They won’t be there, there’s no hookup. You can't do that. So, the people that are wanting something more serious are on there. So be proactive.”

Every relationship is going to struggle. It’s going to be hard, but it's so important to push through. Persevere through the challenges and Samantha is positive you’ll come out stronger on the other side.

“Just imagine the connection that you'll have because you've been through something that's really life changing.”

So, don’t lose hope Australia. Times are tough, grim and scary, but now is not the time to give up. It’s not in our nature. Sure, it may feel like the world is ending, but that does not mean your love life has to.

You can listen to the audio version of this story in episode two of the Under Cover podcast here. It is also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Under Cover is a podcast made by RMIT Journalism students.


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